Jazz journalists conferenced in New York City last weekend as arts presenters, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters and musical showcases galore (including an audience-happy Winter Jazzfest and the debut of drummer Jack DeJohnette‘s hot new band) justified the very existence of the profession.
Writers, broadcasters and photographers were all over the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference at the New York Hilton and Sheraton starting last Friday. Reporting registration at 4500, APAP was thick with over-populated panels, high velocity semi-business meetings and NEA head Rocco Landesman spinning off the conference theme “Risk. Opportunity. Now.” which he called a “Trifecta!,” leading to his paean to optimism and the payoff of his NEA motto, “Art Works.”
- Darcy James Argue’s itchy, attitudinal, propulsive, raw and synchronized Secret Society big band, reprising the compositions on their much-lauded premiere recording Infernal Machines, opened the Winter Jazzfest extravaganza at (le) Poisson Rouge, largest and most central of five Greenwich Village clubs that coordinated to host more than 40 ensembles, scheduled to overlap, on Friday and Saturday nights. Bleecker Street was full of eager jazz fans of all ages, but mostly young, as music continued into the mornings’ wee hours and packed houses had listeners standing or stuck in lines out the doors.
- Alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw‘s louche jazz soul band at Zinc Bar, climaxing several sets organized by the hiply spirited production company Revive Da Live, reemphasized that jazz is a social music, suitable for energizing big fun parties even while its sounds can be appreciated for their smart as well as sensuous qualities.
- Drummer-composer-melodica/keyboardist DeJohnette’s hot new quintet featuring altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa, micro-tonal guitar wiz Dave Fuiczynski, keyboardist George Colligan and electric bassist Jerome Harris performed pieces adapted from his well-remembered Special Edition repertoire and some new songs, too, at Birdland (not part of Winter Jazzfest). The powers of the players was palatable, the interaction they achieved was bracing and their potential as an ensemble is exciting to imagine. It’s a major treat to hear DeJohnette, whose jazz mastery during the past five decades should not be overlooked. He is subtle and dazzling, equally attuned to dynamics, timbre and rhythm. In this situation, as distinct from, say, his position in Keith Jarrett’s longstanding trio, DeJ cuts loose.